Body image counselling challenges your poor self-image and helps develop a positive view of yourself as a whole person.
When you look in a mirror, what do you see? Perhaps you see a pointy chin, skinny arms or legs. Maybe you see a large person staring back at you, even though others tell you ‘you look wonderful’. Focusing on our own appearance is very human but for some people, too much focus, particularly when that focus is ‘critical’ in nature, may indicate they have a body image issue.
Body image issues: A modern day phenomenon
Although historically there has always been an understanding of body image and body shape, in our modern, media obsessed society, our ‘body image’ is shaped by a number of factors: marketing; the rise of the ‘selfie’; the rise of ‘celebrity’. Furthermore, what has historically been an issue faced by females has, in more recent years, started to affect men’s lives too.
The misconception that many people have around someone, who has body image issues, is that it only affects people who are ‘fat’, ‘short’, ‘look different’ or have some other visually identifiable feature that might be considered to be ‘odd’ or ‘unattractive’ but the truth is that the ‘body image’ is the perception someone has of their own body and it is almost irrelevant what other people say they see or think about their own body.
‘Body image’ is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror, in photographs or picture yourself in your mind’s eye.
Healthy body image means you are comfortable with the body you have. It does not mean you think your body is perfect, rather, that you accept it and commit to loving and caring for it.
Body image counselling helps you to develop a healthier ‘view’ of yourself and replace your negative internal voice with more positive perceptions.
What has caused this body hatred or poor self-image?
Our society invites us to believe that we are only attractive if we are ‘normal’. Shame, body hatred and poor self-image have become increasingly prevalent in a culture, obsessed as it is with body shape and sexualized imagery. From an early age we are either told or sold that it is good to be:
- slim, youthful, have clear skin, a perfect smile, glossy hair
- the ideal female shape – ‘willowy’, ‘hourglass’ or ‘curvy’, ‘flat stomach’, ‘full lips’, ‘small nose’
- the ideal male shape – ‘athletic’, ‘V shaped’, ‘broad shouldered’, ‘6 pack’, ‘bronzed’, ‘having a perfectly proportioned physique’
No one is ‘perfect’ but those with a poor self-image can get into a spiral of self-hatred and loathing of their bodies also known as body ‘dysmorphia’.
Having a negative or unhealthy body image, may cause you to become preoccupied with what you may feel to be ‘physical flaws’ and you may have developed a distorted perception of your physical features making you may feel uncomfortable in your body, finding it difficult to accept the way you look or experiencing discomfort, shame or even disgust in relation to your appearance.
This is a very unhappy way to live and often leads to self-deprivation and dieting (see Eating and Dieting Issues) or unhealthy or addictive activities or regimes (see Addictions, Obsessions and OCD).
Body image issues counselling challenges your perceptions
There is a way forward, this is to realise and accept that this hatred is not about body size or shape, rather it is a way of blaming ourselves for what is not right in our lives.
If you hate your body and would like to stop feeling this way counselling for body image issues can help.
During your sessions we will work together to help you to notice how you speak to yourself and how damaging this can be. With support and practice, you will begin to choose a different way to speak to yourself and build on this to create a happier, more comfortable self-image.
Often those with poor body image issues are also people who suffer low self-esteem or low self-confidence and therapy can help you to increase your overall positive view of yourself.
Body image issues counselling, how to find the right person to work with
Research shows again and again that the effectiveness of the therapy or counselling is affected by the relationship you have with your therapist or counsellor. It is therefore important that you find someone who you feel comfortable with and who you can build a trusting relationship with.
Therapy for body image issues in London
To find a counsellor for help with your body image issues take a look at the profiles of the therapists at City Therapy Rooms, each profile is written by the therapist and gives you more information about how they work and their availability.
Please feel free to chat on the telephone to a few therapists or to meet several before deciding who you would like to work with. The initial session is an opportunity for both you and the therapist to decide if you would like to work together.
© Brian Cotsen